BULGARI

Bulgari is an Italian luxury brand of jewellery, watches, perfumes, accessories and interior design for its famous hotels

Index:

  1. The origins: Sotirio Bulgari
  2. The first successes
  3. The Bulgari style
  4. Third generation
  5. Bulgari Hotels
  6. LVMH takes over Bulgari
  7. The continuous success and awards
  8. 130 years of activity
  9. 2019
  10. New formats
  11. The artisan production
  12. Current situation
  13. Bulgari’s Sustainable Future

The origins: Sotirio Bulgari

Family of Italian jewellers, it has as its progenitor and founder Sotiris Boulgaris, a silversmith originally from Epirus. He fled from his native village, Paramythia – where he started the jeweller business – due to internal wars. He arrived in Italy in 1879 in search of fortune, Italianizing his name in Sotirio Bulgari.

Sotirio Bulgari

The first successes

In 1885, he opened a shop in Rome via Sistina, faithful to the ancient Greek goldsmith tradition, proposing a collection that blended ancient and modern techniques. In the following years, he opened a series of branches in the most popular holiday resorts, achieving success and approval from the public.

Old curiosity shop

The company grew significantly, and in 1905, Mr. Bulgari moved the company headquarters to via de’ Condotti, an elegant Roman shopping venue. The sign was Old Curiosity Shop (The Antiques Shop) a clear reference to the title of a novel by the writer Charles Dickens. He hoped it would serve as a lure for wealthy English tourists strolling the Roman streets.

The Style

Beginning in the mid-1900s, Bulgari, who initially worked only on silver, included jewels of all kinds among his creations. He gave life to a real Bulgari style, with original features inspired by ancient Greek manufacturing.

The Logo

The logo with the pointed name and surname of the founder, in lapidary characters – from which the famous letter “V” instead of “U” derives – appeared for the first time in the early 1920s. Then, at the end of the decade, it was transformed. The initials appeared in uppercase and the rest in lowercase, but the original Latin “V” remained unchanged in honour of the classic roots of his family.

The brand was engraved on the shop sign during the major restoration work, which, in 1934, gave new life to the boutique in Via dei Condotti. The jewels that Bulgari proposed were very successful among Roman customers and wealthy foreign tourists.

The contribution of Bulgari’s children

All this was also thanks to the great creative commitment and excellent intuitions of Sotirio’s sons, Costantino and Giorgio, who joined the company in the early 1930s.

Costantino, a passionate scholar of collecting and antiques, began to collect art objects of various kinds: carved stones and precious artefacts that helped him deepen his study and knowledge of ancient goldsmith art.

Costantino also wrote Argentieri, Gemmari e Orafi, a book still considered a milestone for studies on Italian goldsmith art. On the other hand, Giorgio devoted himself to the company’s processing techniques and commercial management.

The forties

Elizabeth Tailor wearing Bulgari Jewel

At the end of the 1940s, Bulgari introduced the Serpenti jeweled wristwatches with tubogas or gold mesh. This style is still very popular today. Meanwhile, the jeweller’s boutique became the favourite meeting place for the Roman aristocracy. The rich American tourists who came to Rome and the jet set of international cinema could not miss it. By introducing the cabochon cut and using coloured stones set in yellow gold, Bulgari launched a new style, always characterized by great inventive freedom.

The tradition remains

The emblem of tradition was represented by the ancient Greek and Roman coins that, as pendants, hung from necklaces and bracelets with toboggans mesh or as decorative motifs that embellished silver rings, brooches, earrings and furnishings. The impeccable manufacture, composition refinement, and unmistakable design made these jewels real cult objects.

Third generation

In the 60s, the daughters of Costantino, Anna and Marina, and the sons of Giorgio, Gianni, Paolo and Nicola also joined the company. At that time, the brand was recognized worldwide as a luxury brand and an essential point of reference for the Roman aristocracy.

After Giorgio’s death occurred in 1966, Gianni, his son, became co-managing director, together with his cousin Marina. The latter were elected presidents of the company, together with the grandson Francesco Trapani, general manager. In the 70s, Bulgari began expanding internationally, opening branches in New York, Paris, Geneva and Monte Carlo.

The 80s and 90s

In 1985, Gianni, the managing director, resigned, and two years later, in 1987, he left the family business after having sold his stake in the company to the brothers Nicola and Paolo. The brothers were elected, respectively, president and vice president of the company, and the nephew Francesco Trapani took on the role of managing director. Since the early nineties, Trapani’s goal has been diversifying the company.

The creations

The 80s and 90s stood out for the opulence of the creations: Bulgari’s perfect adaptation to the contemporary world continued to produce, once again, great masterpieces. In those years, the Parentesi and the Bulgari-Bulgari line were created, the first line of modular jewels; Bulgari gave life to new shapes inspired by the Colosseum and the famous Quadrato watches. Bulgari’s actuality and contemporaneity have always been reflected in the continuous experimentation of new materials.

In 1991, the Naturalia collection debuted, inspired by the animal and plant world. For the occasion, Bulgari donated a movie entitled Anima Mundi to WWF (World Wildlife Fund). In the 90s, the creation of accessories for men and women, small leather goods, scarves, ties and glasses took place.

In 1996, Bulgari began experimenting even more with new materials: in the Chandra jewellery line, porcelain was skilfully combined with gold. In 2001, the company launched Lucea, a collection with a fresh and new style characterized by a fluid weaving of gold and precious stones: the famous model Gisele Bündchen was the protagonist of the advertising campaign.

Bulgari Hotels

The year 2002 marked the birth of Bulgari Hotel & Resorts, a joint venture between Bulgari and Luxury Group, the luxury hotel group of Marriott International. A series of luxury hotels was designed, the first of which would be opened in the centre of Milan, in the private street Fratelli Gabba, near La Scala and the Brera district.

In autumn 2003, the company proposed the women’s fragrance Omnia, the eighth creation of the Bulgari line of perfumes for men and women. That same year, the largest single-brand store in the East opened in Hong Kong – the famous Chater House – to strengthen the brand’s presence in the Asian market.

Luxury, style and the finest made-in-Italy quality characterize the new Bulgari project, which will open the new hotel in Miami in 2024. The building, which housed the Bulgari Hotel Miami Beach, was designed as a hotel in the 1950s by architect Albert Anis and belonged to Miami Beach’s Miami Modern architectural movement.

We are proud to have found such an extraordinary location,” says the official note. “This will be our first hotel in the United States of America, a very important market for our brand, and we are happy to add the effervescence and glamour of Miami Beach to our destinations. We are confident that the Bulgari Hotel Miami Beach, scheduled to open in 2024, will represent an irresistible hospitality experience in the American luxury hotel landscape, as it is forged by the uniqueness of our history as great Roman jewellers. The renovation project, which, as for the other Bulgari Hotels, will be entirely supervised by the Milanese architecture firm Antonio Citterio Patricia Viel, includes around 100 rooms, most of which are suites, and a wide range of services, including a large swimming pool, an outdoor area, a spa and fitness area and a restaurant and bar both managed by the 3 Michelin star Italian chef Niko Romito.

A new hotel in Rome

Bvlgari announced the agreement for a new hotel in Rome, which is scheduled to open in 2022. As with the other Bulgari Hotels in the world, the Italian architectural firm Antonio Citterio Patricia Viel will take care of both the architectural and interior design of the new Bvlgari Hotel Roma, which will have over 100 rooms, most of which are suites. All this is in addition to the prestigious “Il Ristorante” curated by Michelin-starred chef Niko Romito and “The Bvlgari Bar”, both located on the top floor to guarantee an incomparable view of the Eternal City. The luxury hotel will also include a number of additional amenities, including a high-end spa with an indoor pool and state-of-the-art gym. On the facade of the building, on top of a splendid fountain, a Latin inscription says: “This is the place where the soul of Emperor Augustus flies in the air”.

For the occasion, Bulgari created a splendid jewel that reflects the exceptional creativity of the legendary house.

Bulgari New

In 2009, two new collections were presented: Bvlgari New and B.zero 1. The first is characterized by a gold circle engraved with the iconic double logo. The materials used are 18-carat yellow or white gold, alone or combined with onyx and mother of pearl, and bright diamond pavé.

B.ZERO 1

The new B.zero 1, instead, is fresh and feminine thanks to its colourful gems. Peridots, blue topazes, garnets, citrines and amethysts with vivid colour and particular transparency combine and blend with thin chains and hanging elements that give life and movement to each piece. Moreover, the watches of the iconic Italian Maison were renovated with three new dials in white, pink and brown mother of pearl. The peculiarities are the diamond indexes combined with the strap, proposed in three different colours.

 

In 2004, the first Bulgari Hotel was officially inaugurated in Via Privata Fratelli Gabba in Milan, near La Scala, in an 18th-century Milanese building. In 2005, given the international fame of the brand, a new hotel was opened in Bali, soon followed by those in London and Shanghai (2012 and 2015). An additional Hotel was planned for late 2017 in Dubai.

#RAISEYOURHAND

Bulgari spoke with great pride of its social commitment: the brand’s partnership with Save the Children is famous, for which the #RaiseYourHand campaign was launched. In 2009, the company launched an ad hoc collection, Save the Children, tailor-made and inspired by the iconic B.zero1 line, the proceeds of which went to the International Organization for Children’s Rights. Over the past seven years, over $ 50 million has been donated to the cause. #RaiseYourHand 2016, instead, is a campaign committed to drawing global attention to the precarious conditions of children worldwide.

LVMH takes over Bulgari

In the first quarter of 2011, LVMH acquired the majority stake in Bulgari S.p.A., which became part of the large French holding. Sales rose by 27%, resulting in an operating result up by more than 70%. The owner of the French group, Bernard Arnault, was extremely satisfied with the new acquisition.

Le Gemme was born from an agreement between the Italian maison and Luxottica that summer, an exclusive collection of eyewear in 18-karat gold, diamonds and sapphires. In September, an incredible retrospective of the brand was presented: the exhibition entitled 125 anni di magnificenza (“125 years of magnificence”) was organized in Tiananmen Square in Beijing. It presented to the public 600 precious pieces of high jewelry, including some unpublished ones.

The continuous success and awards

Bulgari continued in the wake of its splendid creations, giving life to a line of bags in 2012, which was given the name of the famous diva Isabella Rossellini, daughter of the unforgettable Roberto Rossellini and Ingrid Bergman. The muse to whom Bulgari dedicated the bag was the testimonial for the presentation campaign of the new accessory. Isabella Rossellini was portrayed for the occasion by the American photographer Annie Leibovitz.

Rodeo Drive Award

At the end of this year, Nicola Bulgari, vice president of the brand, won the Rodeo Drive Walk of Style Award, an award assigned to personalities who have achieved important results on a working level, delivered and celebrated on the Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. 

130 years of activity

In 2014, in honour of Bulgari’s 130th anniversary, the restyling of the Maison’s main boutiques began, starting with the historic Roman headquarters in Via de’ Condotti. The great project was entrusted to the American architect Peter Marino, who could blend the motifs of tradition with innovation typical of the brand. The inauguration of the Roman boutique saw Carla Bruni as an exceptional godmother who wore a necklace worth over 7 million euros for the occasion.

The restoration of the historical places of Rome

During the celebration of the new flagship store, the brand announced the allocation of 1,500,000 euros for the conservative restoration of the Scalinata di Trinità dei Monti, the historical place of the capital, overlooked by the elegant Via de’ Condotti. After that, the Maison also took care of restoring the underlying Piazza di Spagna and the famous Fontana Barcaccia by Pietro Bernini.

The Museum

In 2014, a “unique building” called DOMVS, an exhibition art gallery, opened to the public to preserve the Bulgari heritage and name. To inaugurate this new exhibition space, Bulgari presented The Dream, a short film created with the collaboration of director Paolo Sorrentino. Valeria Golino and the Eternal City were the protagonists of the short film.

Located on the second floor of the brand’s boutique in Via Condotti, DOMVS offers unique storytelling of Bulgari’s stylistic evolution through iconic pieces such as those collected for the prestigious Heritage Collection. This temple also displayed images and objects from divas who once represented the brand, such as Elizabeth Taylor, Sophia Loren, and Anna Edberg. At the beginning of 2015, Bulgari began a long-term collaboration with one of the most famous design schools, Central Saint Martins, to support young designers by promoting many design competitions.

In that same year, full of news, an unpleasant incident with the Italian tax authorities that had begun in 2011 was resolved: Bulgari repaired with payment of taxes equal to 42 million euros.

In 2016, Le Gemme Men was born, a new collection of luxury men’s perfumes inspired by the tradition and values of excellence of Haute Joaillerie. In July of the same year, Bulgari launched Festa, a new, spectacular collection: with over a hundred jewels and watches, it is inspired by the Italian art de vivre. In particular, the Palio necklace and bracelet, representing the famous Sienese horse race, were a great success.

2019

On the 8th of September 2019, Alexander Wang and Bulgari celebrated the launch of the Serpenti Through the Eyes of Wang capsule collection with an exclusive party at 712 Fifth Avenue in New York City. The setting of the location replicated a luxury department store. The event included performances by rapper Rick Ross and singer Normani and of DJs Asmara and Pedro; the following celebrities attended the event: Hailey Bieber, Offset, Kehlani, YG, Quavo, Tiffany Haddish, Jacquelyn Jablonski, Soo Joo Park, Sydney Sweeney, Sofia Richie, Justine Skye, Riley Montana, Lindsay Ellingson, Larsen Thompson, Adesuwa Aighewi, Nicole Scherzinger, Erika Jayne, Halima Aden, Dylan McDermott, LadyFag, Hanne Gaby Odiele, Erin Wasson, Coco Rocha, Vashtie Kola, Will Peltz, Kelela, Dua Lipa, Gala Gonzalez, David Alexander Flinn.

Cinemagia, Bulgari’s High Jewellery for 2019, was inspired by cinema

The famous Roman Maison launched the exclusive high-jewellery collection Cinemagia in the same year. A collection, including a pendant brooch in quartz, onyx and diamonds by Bulgari, that was worn by Silvana Mangano while moving through the rooms of a building in Rome in Luchino Visconti’s film. Bulgari was also inspired by this iconic scene.

This is a land of dreams and imagination, the celebration of the link between Roman high jewelry and the seventh art. The magic lied in Bvlgari’s ability to dialogue with all artistic disciplines when producing its jewels. Italian know-how translates into a metal jewel carved with gems, in a symphony of colours; the transposition of a dream into a work of architecture and reality“, explained Carolyne Coquet, CEO of High Jewelery and Haute Horlogerie for the brand.

Bulgari jewels are the elixir of joy that brings the magic of the big screen into everyday life. They shine on red carpets worldwide and remain forever in the minds of those who admire them. “Elizabeth Taylor, Anna Magnani, Sophia Loren: the stars of that time understood the meaning of jewelry.

In search of new talents

In 2017, the National Museum of 21st Century Arts and Bulgari joined forces in the Bulgari MAXXI Award project to support the figure of the young contemporary artist. An international jury selected young talents and presented their work at MAXXI. Today, the name Bulgari expresses in a single word the concept of classic jewellery modelled according to the new dictates of contemporary taste.

New formats

At the end of 2017, Bulgari experimented with a new store model that flanked Rome’s historic and institutional headquarters. New Curiosity Shop, in honour of the first name chosen by the founder in 1905, had the task of attracting a younger audience, proposing digital tools as a new sales format.

2018 was an incredibly lucky year for the brand. The boutique in Via Montenapoleone 2, designed by Peter Marino reopened after the restoration. The architect wanted to tribute the great Milanese designers such as Gio Ponti and Carlo Scarpa.

In the following months the restyling of the boutiques in London, New York and Paris were planned. The brand, the spearhead of the LVMH group, had an 8% increase in sales.

In April of this year, Bulgari allocated another 800,000 euros for the recovery of the archaeological area of Largo Argentina, in the heart of Rome: the entrance, the ticket office and the route of the visit were designed from scratch.

The artisan production

In a modern building on the Via Aurelia, there is one of Bulgari’s artisan production workshops in Rome. Here, in Florence and in Valenza, high-end jewellery items were made that make ladies from all over the world dream.

The Maison produces about 500 pieces a year in this building, which require processing times ranging from 2 months for a ring or a pair of earrings to 6 months for a necklace. Every single piece must be made, down to the last detail, exclusively by a single craftsman. Unlike the common imagination, the environments include large, bright workspaces and state-of-the-art equipment.

The creative director

Lucia Silvestri, the company’s Creative Director and Purchasing Manager, supervises this well-organized luxury factory. She has the task of personally choosing the stones from every corner of the earth, which will embellish the creations of the maison.

Current situation

In 2019 an innovative and exclusive line of bags was presented, whose flagship was the Serpenti Cabochon. This luxury bag has incredibly advanced technology inside, the Bulgari Touch, which allows, through a QR code, to get in touch with the craftsmanship of the product, guaranteeing, at the same time, the authenticity of the accessory and its traceability.

Bulgari Aluminium

The new Bvlgari Aluminum watch defies expectations by focusing on pure, cool styles executed with unparalleled expertise. Bvlgari’s Italian sporting sensibility, unexpected materials and smart and casual elegance are at the heart of this new unisex edition. On the 12th of November 2020, the jury of the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie awarded the Bvlgari Aluminum Chronograph model, presented in the “Iconic” category. This distinction honours a creation that reflects the brand’s essence: disruptive, innovative, and contemporary. It was the sixth prize awarded to Bvlgari by the “Oscars of Watchmaking”. The Prize awarded to the Bvlgari Aluminum Chronograph perfectly embodied what the company loves to do: the unexpected. For over 20 years, it has been speaking a universal language transcending gender, age, fashion, times, social profile and personal style.

Bulgari and Save the Children

Bulagri’s new fundraising project asked celebrities what they wanted for all children. Three months after the explosion that shook Beirut, the brand launched a fundraising initiative to support the intervention of Save the Children’s Education in Emergency in Lebanon. Some of the biggest influencers and celebrities in the Arab region have appreciated contemporary Italian cuisine carefully curated by one of the most interesting and inspiring people working in the restaurant business. The A-listers also supported the cause by asking their staggering number of followers to donate while answering the question: “What do you want for all children?”

Bulgari’s Sustainable Future

On the 17th of June 2020, Bvlgari hosted the webinar “INNOVATING THE PRESENT FOR A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE”, highlighting the Roman jeweller’s commitment to sustainability and corporate social responsibility.

Bulgari’s constant commitment to social and corporate responsibility deeply reflected the importance of guaranteeing transparency and traceability. The AURA blockchain network, which Bulgari has developed in collaboration with a number of international luxury brands, allows consumers to trace the history and authenticity of luxury goods.

However, AURA is suitable for multiple uses, including fundraising, for a new concept of Charity 4.0. Eleonora Rizzuto, Officer – Director Corporate Sustainability & Responsibility of the Maison, explained how the Roman luxury house, inspired by the principles of the Circular Economy (reduce, reuse, recycle and innovate), is developing a strategy aimed at demonstrating Bulgari’s diversified and multifaceted commitment to the implementation of its CSR program to reduce the environmental footprint of its activities drastically. The company 2019 has already adopted a Plastic-Free Policy and Manifesto. It announced that its hotels and resorts would become plastic-free by the end of 2020 to promote an eco-sustainable lifestyle.

Bulgari
Baroque jewel

Bvlgari, the story, the dream

From June to November 2019, the Polo Museale del Lazio, in collaboration with the Bulgari Maison, gave life to an exhibition that celebrated the presence, the work and the great commitment that the brand had been using in Italy for over a hundred years, bringing Made in Italy to world fame.

The chosen locations were two, both exceptional. Castel Sant’Angelo and Palazzo Venezia would host precious archival documents, vintage photos, jewels from the Bulgari Heritage Collection, and loans from private and unpublished collections. 

From the conquest of the growing French artistic power in the 20s to the scarcity of resources due to the war in the 40s to the discovery of new markets, Bulgari earned the right to be called the leading company in luxury jewellery.

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